Herbert Allen Giles (1845-1935) spent several years as a diplomat in China and in 1897 was appointed Cambridge University's second professor of Chinese. His published works cover Chinese language and literature, history and philosophy.
This series of lectures, published as "China and the Chinese," was given at Columbia University in 1902, to mark the establishment of a Chinese professorship there. The lectures were not intended for the specialist, more to urge a wider and more systematic study of China and its culture, and to encourage new students into the field.
While many of the observations are just as relevant today, others will remind us how much China has changed since the period of the Manchu Qing dynasty in which he wrote.
Lecture I - The Chinese Language Lecture II - A Chinese Library Lecture III - Democratic China Lecture IV - China and Ancient Greece Lecture V - Taoism Lecture VI - Some Chinese Manners and Customs
(Summary by David Barnes)
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May 11, 2006 Subject:
China for the curious
In case this is a title you might put onto your list titled: "Interesting -- maybe when I'm feeling scholarly" . . .
These six lectures are a fascinating introduction to the significance of Chinese civilization and scholarship. If that sounds a little dry, start with the last lecture (6: Some Chinese Manners and Customs); if it intrigues you, start with the first (The Chinese Language).
The author, Giles, is marvelously clear, accessible, and comprehensive, and David Barne's reading is a perfectly transparent conveyance of Giles' ideas. Even when the reader might easily be more noticeable than the text -- in the Chinese pronunciation -- instead he makes it seem very natural that the Chinese sounds and intonations should share breath with the English, and so the text remains at the forefront of attention. So here's a really wonderful text, read so deftly you cease to notice the reader -- except every now and again, when it dawns on you what a genuine pleasure it is to listen to this voice.